United States Davis Cup players have made themselves right at home in Melbourne ahead of their first-round tie against Australia, with captain Jim Courier hopeful his team’s preparation will give them an edge over the host nation.
Singles players John Isner and Jack Sock and doubles stars Bob and Mike Bryan have been in Melbourne practising on the grass at Kooyong since Saturday, while Australian players Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic aren’t slated to hit on the temporary centre court until Tuesday due to overseas tournament commitments.
“I feel like it’s definitely an advantage for our team to spend more days on grass,” Courier said.
“But there’s also value coming in with the confidence that I’m sure Nick and Bernie are bringing in, having played so well last week.
“That’s the balance. Obviously health is going to be a real factor (as well) but I couldn’t say whether we have an advantage one way or the other because confidence is also pretty critical.”
Kyrgios and Tomic advanced to a semi-final and a final respectively in lead-in tournaments but will take fitness concerns into the tie, which gets underway on Friday.
Australian captain Lleyton Hewitt is supremely confident both will be passed fit to take on the Americans but Courier is keen to observe Kyrgios, who is struggling with back and hip complaints, on the practice court before making his assessment.
The US team hasn’t progressed past the first round of the past two Davis Cups and Courier admitted they would have their hands full with the Australians in front of a parochial home crowd.
“We know this is a tough one, it’s certainly a big one, and I’m tired of losing in the first round – I think our whole team is tired of that,” he said.
“We know that if we come in here and play anything less than our best we’ll be out of this thing in the first round again.
“(But) I don’t feel any more or less pressure than normal.
“I certainly have expectations on how I want our team to perform but I’m also someone who’s been through these battles enough to know you do the best you can, you leave it all on the court, and you shake hands at the end either way.”